Monday, September 20, 2010

The Tack Room Makeover

Anyone who works with me knows I get snippy when I can’t find things.  At a show, when we are out of our routines and stressed, order is hard to find.  Luckily, Cara feels the same way, so usually our tack room is a picture of anal organization. But not last weekend.

Part of the problem is my new trailer. In my old trailer, I kept some show stuff tucked under my shelves, just for horse shows. My new trailer has these awesome airflow windows, so I’ve been sorting out what can go where, what lives in the trailer all the time, what comes just for shows, and keeping it all below the windows.  As a result, I forgot my cheapie-tired-looking-do-we-really-need-these plastic shelving and carpet.  Well, we needed them.   Without the carpet to define our tack room into zones, and our shelves to get stuff up off the floor, we were primed for disorder.  Then add unpredictable upstate NY fall weather, which feeds the over-packing instinct, and we had, by far, our messiest tack room ever.

BLMs are 4 1/2 weeks away, so I’m trolling web sites and e-bay for solutions.  Furniture for a tack room is a challenge.   Every show stabling is different.  Saugerties, this weekend, had nice, tall stall walls, so even if we had hanging shelving, they wouldn’t hang low enough to reach.  The walls were also pretty thick, so the hanger-part had to be able to fit over the wall – a problem for our bridle racks.    But the floors were pretty flat, a rarity in show stabbing, so free-standing items (like my forgotten selves) would work well.  At NJ Horse Park, on the other hand, the stall walls are wood half-way up, then chain link at the top, giving us lots of places to hang stuff, but making the tack stall an easy victim of rain or a runaway hose. 

In an ideal world, the tack stall furniture would be stuff that we can pack in, then ship in, so there’s no packing for show-unpacking into tack stall-repacking to go home- unpacking back at home.  Add our durability requirements, and I end up shopping for my tack stall at home improvement stores. Max, our favorite addition this season, is a fabulously portable tool box by Stanley. Max’s best feature is that it is built on a dolly, so it’s easy to roll it to the trailer at the end of a long weekend.

As I’m searching for shelving options, I come across the idea of “clamshell cabinets”—essentially two shelving units hinged together. I think this is a great idea, but I think I may need to try my creative hand at this.  There are two problems with this design–first, the shelves are right across from each other, so when the cabinet is closed, things can move from one shelf to another, and fall all over upon opening.  A lip at the end of each shelf and staggering the shelves will fix that.  Second problem – the $1400 price tag.  Plus, if I made it, I can use a pin-in-the-hole connection system (like on horse trailer butt bars), meaning I can totally separate the shelves if the tack room set-up would warrant it.  Plus I like power tools, and have a quiet week coming up, so I’m primed for the project.

I suspect I’m going to give Doug heart-failure with this idea ….

Despite the messy tack room, the show went really well.  We live and compete in Region 1, but as our championships are in November in down in NC, we decided to crash Region 8’s championship this year.   This isn’t our home region, so we had no idea how we would stack up against the competition. 

We did just fine.  Secret, who is an amazingly consistent 66-67% girl, landed us 3rd in her two open first level classes, and 1st in 2nd 3 open.  Cara and Ockie had a truly beautiful ride in the open I-1 class on Saturday to earn a and a red ribbon.  Figi, Trevelyan Farm’s super-star pony, grew up a lot at this show (she’s only about a year under saddle) and was in the 60’s and either in the ribbons, or just out of them, every class.  Plus we squeezed in lessons with Scott with each horse, which had a surprisingly refreshing effect on me.  The little shot of training-focus instead of show-results-focus really kept my mind fresh. 

Pics will come in the next blog, I promise. I’m waiting for Linda and Catharine’s photos. I’ll consolidate them and post soon.

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